If your home is made of cinderblock or concrete, you’ve probably discovered how difficult it can be to pound a nail into the concrete wall. If your artwork is too heavy to be suspended by a self-adhesive hook and you’ve given up trying to hammer in a nail, then the best alternative is to install a concrete screw using a concrete drill bit and a hammer drill. For this purpose, this article will teach you how to drill into a concrete wall at home.
If you have a regular power drill, I advise you not to use it. It might break the poor machine as they don’t usually have hammer options like hammer drills have. I actually had one with a hammer on it and even that didn’t do the job, I needed to go buy a hammer drill after some cursing.
Hammer drills are heavy-duty drills that have a special mode that hammers in the concrete drill bit with in-and-out motion while rotating the bit at the same time. Unless you plan on doing a lot of concrete work, then the cheapest solution may be to just rent a hammer action drill from a local rental store or a place like Home Depot.
Many tools can be rented for as short of a time span as one hour, which may be all the time you need for this project. Because these things can be loud and will stir up some dust, protective gear is recommended such as a dust mask, earplugs, and safety goggles.
Supplies needed for drilling into concrete
Concrete anchors and screws come in different sizes, and it’s best to use the right size for the job needed. For hanging artwork weighing 15 pounds or less, plastic expansion anchors will be fine. However, if you plan on hanging heavy artwork or mirrors, then you will need a toggle bolt that can support this additional weight.
It all depends on the object that is being attached to wall really. 1 screw with plastic anchor might not hold much, but if there is 4-6 it can handle a lot more weight.
Along with the proper sized screw, additional supplies include a hammer, handheld screwdriver, or a power drill, and a carbide-tipped concrete drill bit. These drill bits are usually available for purchase at the rental center or any hardware store. Be sure to select the bit size that is recommended for the size of anchor purchased.
Instructions for installing a plastic wall anchor
Step 1: Carefully mark the location on the wall with a pencil where you want the screw to go. Next, mark the depth of the screw on the drill bit itself with a piece of masking tape. This will stop you from drilling more than is necessary.
If you have multiple holes of the same height, use something like level to mark the holes if they are for the shelf. This way you don’t have round objects rolling off. Sometimes you might have to use eyes to estimate it as the roof and floor might not be level. If you’re using them to measure the attaching points.
Step 2: Use the hammer drill to drill a pilot hole into the concrete, stopping at the depth marked by your masking tape. If your anchor is long, you need to move the drill back and forth a bit to let some concrete dust off. You can use a construction hoover or a wet/dry vacuum with an extra filter to get all the dust while you drill.
If you meat resistance while drilling, that’s the rebar in concrete. Your concrete drill bit can handle it if it’s high quality, no worries. The important thing here is not to push the hammer drill with too much force. You just let it hammer while pushing slowly and it will go through the rebar in a little bit. Don’t bend the hammer drill or push hard, just push straight gently.
The drill bit will be hot after drilling so don’t touch it. After drilling, blow out the excess dust from the hole you’ve just created or use the vacuum to clean it.
A partner would be good here as I don’t advise using a hammer drill with one hand. If there is rebar where you’re drilling the drill bit might stop suddenly and the drill itself will rotate, this might cause wrist injury. It’s always better to use it with two hands.
Step 3: Tap the plastic anchor into the wall using a hammer. Don’t use too much force, if the hole is the right size it will go in without force. Carefully drive the screw into the anchor with a handheld screwdriver. Be sure to leave enough of the screw head showing so that the artwork will have something to hang from.
Step 4: Now it’s time to clean up and return the tools if rented. A good customer returns the tools in the same condition as they were rented so get the dust off them.
I don’t see this mentioned often, but you need to be careful when drilling into walls. There are electric wires in the walls and also some might hold water pipes. Now, I have drilled into both of them and it’s always unnecessary extra bother.
Electric wires can be checked with a tool for it if you’re unsure where yours are located. Wall rebar can be also located with a tool, but that isn’t a big problem. Water pipes might be a harder one, usually, they’re not inside walls, but some old buildings still give out surprises now and then.
If you see a power outlet in the wall, it’s good to assume that electric wire comes to it horizontally or vertically. It’s not always so, but it can be the basic assumption. In this kind of case, a tool to check the wall for electric wire is essential.
Concrete might be hard material to attach decoration and furniture in, but it’s also a very strong material that can handle a lot more weight than wood or drywall. All things from heavy closets to cupboards can easily be attached to a concrete wall without needing to worry about how the wall can handle it.
Another thing that matters here is the screw and anchor size, or toggle bolt. The bigger they are, the more pull-out weight is needed to get them off. I would stick to the size that is needed for the job, but when unsure it’s good to have more than less.
If you’re interested in another drilling of concrete, here is an article about concrete coring. It’s for making larger holes into the concrete.